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Framework for 21st Century Learning

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has developed a vision for student success in the new global economy.

21st Century Student Outcomes and Support Systems 21st Century Student Outcomes and Support Systems
Learning and Innovation Skills 4Cs
Critical thinking Communication Collaboration Creativity

Core Subjects 3Rs and 21st Century Themes


To help practitioners integrate skills into the teaching of core academic subjects, the Partnership has developed a unified, collective vision for learning known as the Framework for 21st Century Learning. This Framework describes the skills, knowledge and expertise students must master to succeed in work and life; it is a blend of content knowledge, specific skills, expertise and literacies. Every 21st century skills implementation requires the development of core academic subject knowledge and understanding among all students. Those who can think critically and communicate effectively must build on a base of core academic subject knowledge. Within the context of core knowledge instruction, students must also learn the essential skills for success in todays world, such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration. When a school or district builds on this foundation, combining the entire Framework with the necessary support systemsstandards, assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development and learning environmentsstudents are more engaged in the learning process and graduate better prepared to thrive in todays global economy.

Publication date: 03/11

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Core Subjects and 21st Century Themes Mastery of core subjects and 21st century themes is essential to student success. Core subjects include English, reading or language arts, world languages, arts, mathematics, economics, science, geography, history, government and civics. In addition, schools must promote an understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes into core subjects: Global Awareness Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy Civic Literacy Health Literacy Environmental Literacy

Member Organizations
American Association of School Librarians Adobe Systems Incorporated Apple Inc. Blackboard Cable in the Classroom Cengage Learning

Learning and Innovation Skills Learning and innovation skills are what separate students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in todays world and those who are not. They include: Creativity and Innovation Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Communication and Collaboration Information, Media and Technology Skills Today, we live in a technology and media-driven environment, marked by access to an abundance of information, rapid changes in technology tools and the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on an unprecedented scale. Effective citizens and workers must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills, such as: Information Literacy Media Literacy ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) Literacy Life and Career Skills Todays life and work environments require far more than thinking skills and content knowledge. The ability to navigate the complex life and work environments in the globally competitive information age requires students to pay rigorous attention to developing adequate life and career skills, such as: Flexibility and Adaptability Initiative and Self-Direction Social and Cross-Cultural Skills Productivity and Accountability Leadership and Responsibility

Cisco Systems Crayola Dell Education Networks of America ETS EF Education GlobalScholar Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Hewlett Packard Intel Corporation JA Worldwide KnowledgeWorks Foundation Learning Point Associates LEGO Group McGraw-Hill Measured Progress MHz Networks Microsoft Corporation National Academy Foundation National Education Association netTrekker Oracle Education Foundation Pearson PMI Educational Foundation Verizon


Developing a comprehensive framework for 21st century learning requires more than identifying specific skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacies. An innovative support system must be created to help students master the multi-dimensional abilities that will be required of them. The Partnership has identified five critical support systems to ensure student mastery of 21st century skills: 21st Century Standards Assessments of 21st Century Skills 21st Century Curriculum and Instruction 21st Century Professional Development 21st Century Learning Environments
For more information, visit the Partnerships website at

Walt Disney Company

One Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite 700

Washington, DC 20001